Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Covenant for Civility

A New Order of the Third Way


"The promised land, of course, suggests the third dimension of the biblical narrative: the peace-making kingdom celebrated by all the prophets, especially Isaiah. As we considered earlier, the narrative begins with the longing for a literal homeland—first, for Abraham, a home outside the Sumerian Empire, and later, under Moses, a place of freedom outside the Egyptian Empire, and later still, for the exiles, a return to their homeland, liberated from the Babylonian/Medo-Persian Empire. Gradually, the idea of a promised land morphs from a geographic reality into a social one; “a land flowing with milk and honey” becomes a society in which justice flows like water. This new society or kingdom is also described as a new era—a new time of shalom, harmony, social equity, prosperity, and safety."

-Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, p. 132-33.


Part 4: The New Global Civility*



This is getting to be a regular event! Yet another broad ecumenical coalition has gathered together to sign yet another "covenant" for "common ground" and "civility." The Discernment Research Group warned over a year ago that this tactic would be increasing :

Be prepared for an onslaught of global “common ground” and global “civility” documents in the days to come. These carefully-worded manifestos always cite pressing crises, or a “momentous challenge” or a critical opportunity that requires a “clarification” or “unity” statement about “where we stand” on carefully delineated issues. This strategy of issuing declarations achieves several key aims: 1) it is always accompanied by an orchestrated public relations and media campaign to bring about public awareness; 2) it redefines issues, often creating or seizing upon a crisis; 3) it posits a pre-manufactured solution and calls for a new broad consensus to achieve its aims; and 4) it becomes a watershed event historically, collecting runoff from all of the nearby slippery slopes of compromise, so that thereafter the document is viewed as the definitive statement.[1]

These "civility" documents are rife with the phrases "common ground," "good will," or "common good," which are the new mantras for the much-anticipated national and global era of peace and reconciliation. The latest one is called "A Covenant for Civility: Come Let Us Reason Together," by Jim Wallis of Sojourners, and described as:

A group of more than 100 prominent Christians ranging from evangelical minister Jim Wallis on the political left to Nixon White House aide Chuck Colson on the right released a document Thursday calling for an end to the fight club tone of the national political discourse.[2]

Like other "covenants" of this ilk, the signers pledge that "we're not going to challenge each other's motives or engage in ad hominem attacks."[3] It is claimed that this covenant "is the latest in a series of faith-based efforts to soften the public discourse."[4] Evangelicals will recognize their high-profile leaders who have signed onto the document, including Leith Anderson, Tony Campolo, Paul Cedar, Lynne Hybels (Bill Hybels' wife), Brian McLaren, and Ron Sider.

The Covenant itself is a fascinating look at semantics. Each point is made with a corresponding Bible verse, a clever bait and switch method which ensures that the Christian reader will agree with at least part of what is being said. However, looking at the document text, apart from the Bible verses, we note some disturbing aspects. For example, what do these bolded words from "A Covenant of Civility" mean?

  • ...contribute to a more civil national discourse...
  • ...our dialogue with each other...
  • ...honor and respect we show to each other in our common humanity, particularly in how we speak to each other...
  • ...when we disagree, we will do so respectfully, without impugning the other’s motives, attacking the other’s character, or questioning the other’s faith...
  • We will ever be mindful of the language we use in expressing our disagreements...
  • ...we are mindful of how we treat each other in pursuit of the common good in the common life...
  • ...we will lead by example... model a better way in how we treat each other...
  • We will strive to create in our congregations safe and sacred spaces for common prayer and community discussion...

These terms have meanings. They mean one thing to those who authored the document and signed it. They may mean something entirely different to you. The signers of this document have another worldview, that of global "peace" and "reconciliation," and they have incorporated it into their emerging theology that has more to do with social justice and building the Kingdom of God on Earth than spreading the message of the Gospel of Salvation. Berit Kjos, writing on the issue of "Common Good," defined this agenda as:

This "common good" must be negotiated in a "Public Square" -- a global arena where people share their views. To keep their debates "civil," they must learn to appreciate pluralism and seek a "common life" compatible with all beliefs and lifestyles. Peace and unity must be forged through a collective "framework" that provides the social rules for "living together with our deepest differences."[4]

While we could digress into an extended discussion about our theological or political differences with these signers, that is not really the point. And it isn't the point of this "A Covenant of Civility" either. Don't be fooled! This isn't a political Right vs. political Left document! It conveniently comes at a time when the nation appears to be politically polarized. However, that is just the "crisis" warranting a "common ground" solution. Notice what "A Covenant for Civility" is really all about. It has the intent of quieting rhetoric, shutting down true debate about Scripture.[5] Yes, these leaders say they are open to "dialogue," but dialogue isn't the same method of speech as debate:

A debate is a conflict which clarifies a position. A dialogue is a conversation which compromises a position.[6]

Those who have biblical beliefs grounded in the Word of God will not find basic agreement with signing "A Covenant for Civility" in the first place. Why? Do they disagree with the Scriptures used? No. Do they disagree with the applications? Not necessarily. Will they refuse to sign it because they just want to be contentious, argumentative, and abusive? No, that's not it either. Rather, by these leaders' own ground rules, biblical believers are the real threat. This is because "common ground for the common good" covenants, declarations and manifestos are a tactic, a method to shut down critics and marginalize those who have opposition to their causes.

This particular document is laden with implications of politically correct speech, especially for those involved in Christian discernment or apologetics ministries. For example, at what point will challenging Brian McLaren on his heretical ideas in his new book A New Kind of Christianity be considered hate speech? Will merely calling into question his widely published aberrant beliefs constitute "impugning," "attacking" or "questioning" him? As we warned previously on this blog:

These "civility" documents are rife with the terms like "people of good will," "conscience," "ethics," "justice" and "morality." But how are these terms defined? These terms can be so redefined as to EXCLUDE those who cannot or will not, for whatever reason, conform. Depending on how these terms are defined, they can actually exclude biblical Christians, particularly those who practice biblical separation.

Those who believe they have a biblical mandate to "contend for the faith," should never do so "contentiously."[7] However, this "A Covenant for Civility" document implies that simply contending for the faith may be construed as an act of incivility, arrogance and hate.

Common Ground Dominionism

All of this activity is part of an emerging convergence of politics and theology, which is why you will not find this document taking a stand against the extremes of Dominionism.[8] Rather it promotes a "third way," a "common ground" broad way where the Gospel of Salvation becomes passe and a new order of spirituality and governance is ushered in.

Make no mistake about it! Both the Left and the Right want to build a Kingdom of God on Earth.[9] Ultimately Left and Right will work together in this new order of the third way, and we are already seeing it happening before our very eyes. Beware of the dialectic dance that always accompanies these types of documents, pitting one group against another, creating superficial differences, while at the same time working together behind the scenes to build the kingdom.


The Truth:

We can agree with the document when it urges us to "pray for our political leaders" and when it urges us to "pray for each other, those with whom we agree and those with whom we may disagree." Lord willing, we will continue to stand and warn against the heresies of these leaders, and we will indeed endeavor to do so with meekness (Titus 3:2), humility (Proverbs 22:4) and love ( 1 John 3:18), remembering to pray for them (Luke 6:28). Our way is the Gospel way (Hebrews 10:20), not the third way.

"Only let your conversation be as it becometh the Gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel." ( Philippians 1:27)


Endnotes:
1. "The New Global Civility: Part 2: Manifestos, Declarations and Covenants," http://herescope.blogspot.com/2009/02/manifestos-declarations-and-covenants.html
2. The actual covenant is located here: http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=action.display&item=100308-civility-covenant The article about it is "Christians from political left and right sign 'Civility Covenant'," by Dan Gilgoff, CNN, March 26, 2010, http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/03/26/christian.civility.covenant/
3. Ibid.
4. "An Evangelical Manifesto for an Interfaith World: Uncompromising Christians are not welcome!" by Berit Kjos, June 3, 2008, http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/08/evangelical-manifesto.htm
5. Listen to this radio interview for evidence that this document is "an attempt to silence orthodox Christians." http://www.crosstalkamerica.com/shows/2010/03/emergent_leaders_evangelicals.php
6. This quote comes from Pastor John Ashbrook in his book New Neutralism II: Exposing the Gray of Compromise (Here I Stand Books, 1992), p. 7. http://www.hereistand.com/books.cfm
7. Contending for the faith is never an excuse for bad behavior. "Contentiously Contending" by Pastor Anton Bosch was an 8-part series that we ran on Herescope beginning June 1, 2007 at http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/06/contentiously-contending.html . This excellent series is being printed into booklet and we will notify our readers when it becomes available.
8. For example, Chuck Colson is once again the chief instigator of yet another "covenant" ecumenical document, an activity he has been doing for several decades. If one examines his beliefs, there is abundant evidence for Dominionism. Which then raises many questions about what precisely he has in "common" with Jim Wallis! See footnote 9 of our post "The Manhattan Declaration: Another Dominionist Covenant" for extensive documentation on Chuck Colson's Dominionism: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2009/12/manhattan-declaration.html
9. We have written extensively on this topic at the Herescope blog. See key posts such as http://herescope.blogspot.com/2008/02/creating-heaven-on-earth.html, http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/06/neo-kuyperian-spheres.html, herescope.blogspot.com/2007/10/rethinking-culture.html, and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2008/02/dread-champion-army.html

*This is an ongoing series as new covenant-type documents like this come out.
Part 1 "The New Global Civility" HERE.
Part 2 "Manifestos, Declarations and Covenants" HERE.
Part 3 "The Manhattan Declaration: Another Dominionist Covenant" HERE.

Monday, March 29, 2010

BEWITCHED!

“The Evil Eye over Evangelicalism”


This is the title of the latest article by Pastor Larry DeBruyn,* just published in the most recent Discernment Ministries newsletter. This is one of Pastor DeBruyn's best articles. He explains clearly and concisely how the occult-based philosophy known as "New Thought" has come to be part of the doctrines and practices of the evangelical movement.

Below is a brief snippet from this excellent and informative article:



The Occultization of Evangelicalism

Over the last generation, a similar spell appears to have overtaken evangelicalism, something that has not gone unnoticed by those without the movement. In their opinion, evangelicalism has been “occultized.” In a book titled Occult America, Mitch Horowitz,** a spokesman for the occult and esoteric ideas, notes that New Age religion possesses “a core set of beliefs and a definable point of view.” He then enumerates these beliefs as follows:

  1. Belief in the therapeutic value of spiritual or religious ideas.
  2. Belief in a mind-body connection in health.
  3. Belief that human consciousness is evolving to higher stages.
  4. Belief that thoughts, in some greater or lesser measure,
  5. determine reality.
  6. Belief that spiritual understanding is available without
  7. allegiance to a specific religion or doctrine.

Of their attitude toward this New Age system of spirituality, Horowitz notes the double minded attitude of evangelicals toward it (See James 1:8.). He notes that even while evangelicals “heaped scorn upon the New Age,” they adopted “some of its most popular therapeutic premises.” Then he continues: “Late-twentieth- and early-twenty-first-century megachurches and media ministries rapidly took to counseling congregants, readers, and television audiences on everything from the spiritual laws of debt relief and weight loss to the mental secrets of success.”

As evidence to the point, we witness the formulaic systems of self-improvement and self-help (By the way, this is legalism—a humanly contrived system of rules and principles that can operate in life without God.) that have come to dominate the evangelical message. By plugging into the power of the mind, whether it’s of the “positivity, possibility, or prosperity” variety, American Christians expect to tap into their human potential in order to experience success ’n life, and this they can do by harnessing the mental powers within or by manipulating the spiritual powers without. Not only are mainline evangelicals using this approach, but also adherents of the charismatic Word of Faith message.

The challenge for “human potentialists” is first, to become conscious the laws of attraction by and through which they can create their success, and then to consciously apply themselves to live in harmony with those psychological and spiritual laws. Though these human “potentialists” might give token assent to God’s working in their lives, the system is designed to work independent of Him.

Through the influence of the movement’s media outlets—personalities, preachers, publicists, and publishers—evangelicalism has come to be dominated by a “formulaic” and Word of Faith spirituality that enshrines principles for success and exalts, even idolizes, those who in their life and ministry achieve it. A seeming never-ending stream of how-to and feel-good books, CDs, and DVDs emanate from Christian publishers for whom ministry has now become industry. If you don’t believe it, check out your local Christian book store, note the genre of books that become overnight Christian best sellers, and observe the “mega” ministries that feed the fleshly appetite for worldly success and personal significance residing in the human heart. In some form or fashion, positivity, possibility and prosperity themes dominate the evangelical media, and by the droves, evangelical ministries sell it and people buy it. Truly we are seeing the fulfillment of Paul’s prediction that in the last days people will “lovers of their own selves . . . lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-2, 4, KJV).

Nevertheless, accepting Horowitz’s observation that New Age beliefs are enshrined in the ministry and message of megachurches and ministries, the question arises, how has the “evil eye” come to bewitch evangelicalism? How has this “different gospel” grown to cast its spell over the movement?

To understand the “occultization of evangelicalism,” something of the philosophy and history of New Thought and its impact upon American Christianity in general, and the evangelical movement in particular, needs to be known. To this end, Horowitz’s recent book Occult America is most helpful, for it amplifies and confirms the researched material previously stated by this pastor in his book, Church on the Rise.

New Thought—the Philosophy

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the New Thought movement asserted itself in America by offering an intellectual, spiritual and mystical alternative to orthodox Christianity. Though similar to New Age religion (Horowitz of course, suggests New Thought is New Age religion!), by a couple of centuries New Thought preceded the 1960s introduction of the New Age spirituality to American culture. As New Thought advocates argue, the principles and practices of it have been around for 1000s of years. New thought was just “new” to America. But just what is it?

In general, New Thought is a theory of living which states: “Change your thinking and you can change your life.” To devotees of this theory, the game of life is mentalist; it’s primarily played out in the brain. According to ANTN (Affiliated New Thought Network), New Thought is,

a modern spiritual philosophy stressing the power of right thinking in a person’s life, the idea that our thoughts and attitudes affect our experience and that God (or whatever other name a person might have for a Higher Power) is within the individual.

A prominent American religious historian labeled this approach to life and faith “Harmonial religion,” which he defined as follows:

Harmonial religion encompasses those forms of piety and belief in which spiritual composure, physical health, and even economic well-being are understood to flow from a person’s rapport with the cosmos. Human beatitude and immortality are believed to depend to a great degree on one’s being “in tune with the infinite.”

In brief, this is the New Thought and Harmonial philosophy of life. We turn to note some of the players.

New Thought—the Players

The philosophy became popularized in America through the transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) and the Christian Science of Mary Baker Glover Patterson Eddy (1821-1910). Others positivity thinkers like . . . .



To discover who the major players are in the evangelical church, and their historical and ideological interconnections, read Pastor DeBruyn's complete article in the current Discernment Ministries newsletter, now posted on the web
HERE

For more interesting reading, see the previous Discernment newsletter article by Pastor Larry DeBruyn, "EMERGENT WORSHIP--WONDER OR WASTELAND? All's not Well with Smells and Bells," posted HERE.


*Pastor Larry DeBruyn is the author of the following books: UNSHACKLED: Breaking Away from Seductive Spirituality and Church on the Rise: Why I am not a Purpose Driven Pastor, and Drumming Up Deception. All of these books can be ordered HERE.

**Footnotes and citations can be accessed by reading the original article posted at http://www.discernment-ministries.org/NL_MarchApril2010.pdf

Friday, March 26, 2010

Temptation Tactics

"They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;"
(Hebrews 11:37)



Part 15: Preparations for Sufferings

As is often the case in our Christian walk, we are our own worst enemies. Our own sins, corruptions and lusts can do us in. As if that isn't bad enough, we also have an external enemy, the Devil, who enjoys working overtime to wreak havoc on our lives. Furthermore, there is a "secret correspondency" between Satan and our own "corruptions" when we enter a time of trial, suffering or persecution, according to John Flavel,* in his time-honored work "Preparations for Sufferings,"[1] He says that persecution is a particularly dangerous time when we are most vulnerable to the "wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11), his "methods and devices" and "desperate strategems":

The hazards and dangers of Christians in times of persecution arise not so much from their sufferings, as from the temptations that always attend, and are by Satan planted upon their sufferings: for the most part, sufferings and temptations go together, Heb 11:37 [cited above].

Flavel reminds us that the Apostle Paul wrote "for we are not ignorant of [Satan's] devices" in 2 Corinthians 2:11. So how do we NOT be ignorant? Flavel insists that we must have a heightened awareness about the fact that in times of trials there are also temptations, and that the Devil will take advantage of us when we are down, nasty fellow that he is. Flavel suggests that we heed Christ's instructions to his disciples when He found them sleeping at a time they should have been alert in the Garden of Gethsemane: "And said unto them, 'Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation'" (Luke 22:46). In other words, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8)

At the first sign of impending temptation we should be a "judicious Christian" who runs to "the throne of grace with strong cries, see 2 Cor. 12:8."[2] Why should we fly to the Lord so desperately and immediately? Because things can get much worse in a big hurry! Flavel warns us of Satan's real intentions:

It is not so much their blood that he [Satan] thirsteth after, as their fall by temptation: and all persecutions are designed by him to introduce his temptations. These work upon our fear, and fear drives us into his trains and snares, Prov. 24:25 ["The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe."] The devil's work in raising persecution, is but as a fowler's work in beating the bush in the night, when the net is spread to take the birds, which he can affright out of their coverts.

This picturesque statement concerns an activity performed by a fowler, a person whose job it was to capture edible birds with nets ("trains") and snares. This job would most often be done at night when the birds were sleeping, to catch them unawares, frightening them out of their hiding places ("coverts") and into the nets. The Bible contains several vivid references to being caught in the snare of the fowler:

  • Psalm 91:3a: "Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler..."
  • Proverbs 6:5: "Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler."
  • Hosea 9:8b: "...but the prophet is a snare of a fowler in all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God."

While Flavel instructs us with these unpleasant facts about Satan's temptation tactics, he does remind us that "there hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man" (1 Cor. 10:13)[3]. He warns that during times of trials there is an uncanny synergy between Satan and our circumstances:

  1. Satan loves to hit us with "strange and unusual temptations," of the type that "daunt and amaze the soul," creating "despondency," and even going so far as to cause some "strange disease."
  2. Beware of your own proclivities to sin, your weak areas, because where you are most vulnerable, there Satan will tempt: "Mark them for most dangerous temptations, that are adapted and suited to your proper sin, or evil constitution."
  3. Be aware that your own best friends can become "instruments to manage" the devil's temptations. Recall the corrupting influences of "A Teacher, Gal. 2:14, A Wife, Gen 3:6, Job 2:9, and Friends, Acts 21:12."[4]
  4. Satan may start out gradually "with little things first, and then by degrees" work up to greater temptations so that we are caught unawares.
  5. Satan also catches us off guard by engaging "the soul upon his own ground,..." tempting us to leave our "station and duty" where God has placed us, where we are quietly abiding with God, 1 Cor 7:24: "Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God."
  6. The devil "loves to strike while the iron is hot," waiting until our troubles are at their worst, while we are facing tortures such as "prison, gibbet,[5] or fire" and then offering us deliverance if we will just compromise, Heb 11:35.[6] He loves "to fall upon us, as Simeon and Levi did upon the Shechemites, when we are sore and wounded" (see Genesis 34).
  7. The devil is relentless, "in tiring our souls with a long continuance of temptations. What he cannot win by a sudden storm he hopes to gain by a tedious siege," such as the 40 days of temptation our Lord endured" (See Psalm 125:3).[7]

So, all of this is bad enough. But it gets even worse! Flavel observes that there is a "secret correspondency Satan holds with our bosom enemies." Satan often works through others to hammer us when we are already under assault, drain us when we are already exhausted, and raise more havoc, destruction and confusion when we are enduring great spiritual battle. This "correspondency" doesn't just come from our sworn enemies, however (see point 3 above). Those who have experienced the sudden betrayal of a friend during a trial, know this experience can be devastating. Our Lord Himself was, after all, betrayed by Judas, one of his twelve disciples.

Flavel never neglects to remind us that it is our own "passions and affections" that can betray us more than anything else, at any point along this treacherous path. He lists "self confidence and pride" and "inbred lusts" as dreadful enemies. While "Satan works externally and objectively," lust works "internally and physically... a subtle enemy" (see Romans 7), James 1:14.[8]

Remedies for Resistance

During this terrible double-trial, there are several Scriptures that are encouraging:

  • Thankfully, Satan is "put to flight by resistance," James 4:7b: "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
  • We need the heavenly outlook described in Hebrews 10:34: "For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance."
  • Look to the example of Moses: "Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." (Hebrews 11:25)
  • "Live up this principle that there is no policy like sincerity and godly simplicity, Ps. 25:2."[9]

The Truth:

Flavel concludes his exhortation by counseling believers to "never engage a temptation in your own strength," and advises us that "your best posture to wrestle with temptation, is upon your knees." He reminds us to keep this perspective: "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son" (Revelation 21:7)

"Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Corinthians 12:10)


Endnotes:
1. Works of John Flavel (6 vol set), Banner of Truth Trust (1820, 1968), ISBN 0-85151-060-4. Flavel's dissertation titled "Preparations for Suffering, or The Best Work in the Worst Times" appears in Volume 6, pages 3-83.
2. 2 Cor. 12:8 states:
"For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me."
3. The whole of this verse encourages us with this promise:
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
4. Galatians 2:14 Paul wrote: "But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" In Genesis 3:6 Eve fell under Satan's lie, "For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." During the time of Job's greatest suffering, in Job 2:9, we read of his wife's terribly bad advice: "Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die." And Paul's friends, advised against the Lord's will in Acts 21:12: "And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem." [Note: Flavel cites verse 13 in this instance, but 12 is better understood in this context.]
5. According to http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gibbet, a gibbet is "a gallows with a projecting arm at the top, from which the bodies of criminals were formerly hung in chains and left suspended after execution."
6. Hebrews 11:35, in the list of those who by faith served the Lord, reveals that these saints did not compromise by accepting offers of deliverance: "Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection."
7. Here Flavel paraphrases Psalm 125:3 to state: "When the rod of the wicked lies long upon the back of the righteous, it is much if he put not forth his hand to iniquity." In other words, after a long siege, we are sorely tempted to fight back.
8. James 1:14 states: "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed."
9. Psalm 25:2 simply states this fervent prayer: "O my God, I trust in Thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me."


*ED. NOTE: Italics in original, bold added. We have taken minor liberties to reformat some of the published text by altering some of the punctuation, Roman numerals, and other obsolete forms. Emphasis added in Bible verses.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Discernment CATALOG

We are pleased to announce that the Discernment Ministries CATALOG is now completely updated and posted online. This is the compilation of all of the informative resources available from Discernment Ministries.


Click HERE to go to the homepage.
Click
HERE to go to the resources.


This catalog is well-organized by date, topic and/or category. It represents the compilation of twenty-one years of Discernment research and conference materials. You'll find plenty of enriching and informative materials available from our well-known conference speakers, friends, researchers, pastors and writers. Check our our LATEST MATERIALS page for new information.

Also now available are the CDs from our latest conference at Sun Valley Community Church in California. To order these contact the Discernment book office: 903 567-6423:
  • "A Great Revival? The myth of the 'great revival'" - Lynn Leslie
  • "Apostasy: A great revival or a great falling away?" - Pastor Anton Bosch
  • "A form of godliness - Matthew 13:31; 47-52" - Pastor Anton Bosch
  • "Are you feeding at the trough?" - Sarah Leslie
  • "Living for Christ in Wicked and Adulterous Times" - Jewel Grewe

We pray that you will be blessed and strengthened in your faith by this wealth of information. For our online archive of newsletters, publications, articles and resource materials, please visit our main website at http://www.discernment-ministries.org/.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Are You Mortified?

"So what is the answer? How can you stand your ground when you are weak and sensitive to pain, when people you love are still alive, when you are unprepared?

"What do you need to make you stronger than the interrogator and the whole trap?

"From the moment you go to prison you must put your cozy past firmly behind you. At the very threshold, you must say to yourself: 'My life is over, a little early to be sure, but there's nothing to be done about it. I shall never return to freedom. I am condemned to die--now or a little later. But later on, in truth, it will be even harder, and so the sooner the better. I no longer have any property whatsoever. For me those I love have died, and for them I have died. From today on, my body is useless and alien to me. Only my spirit and my conscience remain precious and important to me.'


"Confronted by such a prisoner, the interrogation will tremble.


"Only the man who has renounced everything can win that victory."

- Aleksander I. Solzhenitzyn, The Gulag Archipelago*



Part 14: Preparations for Sufferings

Chances are you've never heard a sermon quite this severe. Be challenged to read this through and examine your heart honestly. The main point is this: We can't possibly be ready to "die for Christ" should persecution arise until we've first "died to self." It is known as "mortification." John Flavel,** in his classic work "Preparation for Sufferings"[1] introduces the concept quite bluntly:

The next thing wherein your actual readiness for bonds, or death consisteth, is in the mortification of your affections to all earthly interest and enjoyments; even the best and sweetest of them.

What does it mean to mortify our affections? Strong's Concordance renders it:

1. to put to death
a) to make to die i.e. destroy, render extinct
b) by death to be liberated from the bond of anything, literally to be made dead in relation to (something)
[2]

Two key verses from Scripture describe this condition:

  • Romans 8:13: "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."
  • 1 Peter 3:18: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit."

A similar verse is found in Colossians 3:5, where the word translated "mortify" is from the Greek nekroo, meaning to "put to death"[3]: "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry."

By our modern sense of justice and propriety, Flavel takes an extreme view of this "necessity of an heart mortified to all earthly and temporal enjoyments, in order to the right managing of a suffering condition...." It isn't just generic sin in the heart that must be mortified (i.e., put to death), but "earthly enjoyments," those things that we feel are the entitlements and privileges of life. Certainly here in modern 21st century comfortable America we feel like we are entitled to certain enjoyments and privileges in life. Furthermore, we look down upon those who are weaker, more feeble, poorer, less fortunate, handicapped by various conditions, and less glamorous. But the Bible talks about death to self, an unappealing idea to our natural egotism. Flavel expounds on five reasons why he considers mortification of the self to be absolutely necessary to prepare one for actual sufferings:

  1. "Unless the heart be mortified to all earthly enjoyments, they will appear great and glorious things in your eye and estimation." He says that "it is corruption within" our hearts that "puts the lustre and glory upon things without," citing the familiar verse from 1 John 2:16: "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." Flavel notes that it will be difficult to deny these things unless we have stopped esteeming them, and count them but "dung and dross," Phil 3:8.[4] In our modern consumer-driven, marketing mania world, how much more difficult is it for us to mortify these things? We turn on the TV and see advertisements that provoke us to covet. We watch shows that convey a worldly sense of normalcy that is both provocative and alluring, lulling us to sleep with banality and carnality.
  2. "Sin is to the soul, what a disease is to the body; and mortification is to sin, what physic is to a disease." Here is another one of those beautiful archaic words, physic, which means "a medicine that purges; cathartic; laxative."[5] In other words, mortification - dying to self - is a medicine, curing us of carnality and immaturity, 1 Cor. 3:2-3.[6]
  3. "Your corruptions must be mortified, else they will raging and violent in the time of temptation, and, like a torrent, sweep away all your convictions and resolutions. It is sin unmortified within that makes the heart like gun-powder; so that when the sparks of temptation fly about it, (and they fall thick in a suffering hour) they do but touch and [ignite]." Here Flavel quotes 2 Peter 1:4, noting that the "corruptions of the world are said to be through lust."[7] He claims that our lusts betray us as "the traitors that deliver up our souls." It is even more sobering to realize that our carnal corruptions and lusts could lead us to compromise, lie or betray a a fellow believer or family member in Christ during an hour of persecution.
  4. Flavel worries that unless these corruptions are reigned in, and our "pride, passion and revenge be not first subdued," that we will inevitably "disgrace religion" and the cause of Christ. "If you be envious, fretful, discontented, and revengeful, under your sufferings, what honour will this bring to Christ? Is not this altogether unlike the example of your Lord? Isaiah 53:7[8] and the behaviour of suffering saints?" He cites I Corinthians 4:13: "Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day." How shall we endure when we are treated as "filth" and "offscouring," especially by those who call themselves brothers and sisters in the Lord? Shall we seek revenge, try to orchestrate circumstances, make political maneuvers, counter-attack, bite and devour? Or will we permit ourselves to be mortified, humbled, defamed, ridiculed, mocked, scorned, or worse?
  5. Flavel also worries that "longings and hankerings after earthly enjoyments and comforts" will "prove a snare to you" in the end. Hear his words which exhort so eloquently and passionately:
[W]hat is sin but the corrupt and vitiated appetite of the creature, to things that are earthly and sensual, relishing more sweetness and light in them, than in the blessed God? And what is sanctification, but the rectifying of these inordinate affections, and placing them on their proper object? A regenerate and mortified Christian tastes not half that sweetness in forbidden fruits that another doth: set but money before Judas, and see how eagerly he catches at it--"What will ye give me, and I will betray him".... Oh those unmortified lusts! how do they make men hanker, long, and their lips water... after these things?

What are these enjoyments/corruptions that so beset us? Flavel names and defines them as:
  • Estate - love of the things of this world
  • Name - ambition, reputation
  • Liberty - inordinate affection of freedom and pleasure
  • Life - excessive love of life

Mortify Estate: This means our position in the world; be willing to die to its hold on you. Flavel remarks that "it grieves my heart to see how many [believers] are carried captive at the chariot-wheels of a bewitching world." He urges believers to consider their espousal to Christ, reminding us of spiritual adultery, that "an unchaste glance upon the world wounds Him." He warns us to stay away from those who are "enemies of the cross," "whose God is their belly." (Phil. 3:18-19).[9] Flavel also reminds us that this is what true spiritual warfare is all about:

by your love and delight in worldly things, you furnish the devil with the chiefest bait he hath to catch and destroy your souls. Alas! were your hearts but dead to these things, he would [need a] handle to catch hold on. What hath he more to offer you, and tempt you off from Christ with but a little money, or some such poor temporal rewards?


Mortify Name: Here is where death to self, especially under peer pressure, becomes critical. Can you bear having your reputation besmirched? Can you bear scoffing? Reproaches? People telling or publishing lies about you? Flavel writes, "Mortify your ambition and vain affectation of the repute and credit of the world... let not scoffs and reproaches be such terrible things to you. It is without a doubt, a great trial; else the Holy Ghost had not added a peculiar epithet to it, which is not given to any other of the sufferings of the saints: not cruel tortures, nor cruel stonings, burnings, slaying with the sword; but cruel mockings, Heb. 11:36.[10] Yet learn to be dead to, and unaffected with these things.... Despise the shame, as... Christ did, Heb. 12:2."[11] 1 Peter 4:14: "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified."[12] The apostles counted the reproaches of Christ to be "their honours," Acts 5:41.[13] In a sobering conclusion, Flavel reminds us that

Should scoffs and reproaches scare you from Christ and duty; then, though you should escape the reproaches of men, yet shall you fall under the everlasting contempt of God, angels, and good men. Therefore, "Fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but My righteousness shall be for ever, and My salvation from generation to generation." (Isaiah 51:7a,8)


Mortify Liberty: This is hard for an American to conceptualize, despite the fact that people are rapidly relinquishing our country's hard-won liberties every day. But discover what they are relinquishing their liberties for, and it is the same thing that drives people to sin! It is "inordinate affections of liberty, pleasure, and delicate living" that Flavel is referring to here. Dr. Francis Schaeffer used the phrase "personal peace and affluence" to describe this phenomenon. Once again Flavel is blunt: "O let not a prison seem so formidable to you." He is referring to our loss of liberty should we be imprisoned for the cause of Christ. It is not the worst thing in the world, he says, reminding us of these things:

  • "No [jail] keeper can keep the Comforter from you, if you be the Lord's prisoners, Acts 16.... You are the Lord's freemen, whilst men's prisoners: All the world cannot divest you of the state of liberty Christ hath purchased for you, John 8:36": "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
  • "Though a prison looks sad and dismal, yet it is not hell: Oh bless God for that, that is a sad prison indeed!"
  • "How obdurate and cruel soever men are to you, yet the Lord Jesus is kind and tender-hearted to His prisoners.... Psalm 102:20, the Lord hears "the groaning of the prisoner."
  • "A prison hath been handselled and perfumed by the best and holiest of men in all ages." "Handsell" means a "first installment" or a "foretaste."[14] Flavel cites the following men in Scripture who have gone on before, enduring prison ahead of us, serving as examples to us: Micaiah (1 Kings 22:27), Jeremiah (Jer. 32:2), John the Baptist (Matt. 4:12), Peter and others (Acts 5:18), and Paul (Acts 26:10).
  • "Should you, to avoid a prison, commit a sin, instead of being man's prisoner, you shall be clapt[15] [i.e. "put in place quickly or forcefully"] by God, for He hath a prison for your souls even in this world, Psalm 142:7.[16] And this is ten thousand times more dreadful than any dungeon in the world... nothing to let in the least beam of God's countenance upon your poor souls!"
  • Flavel considers Rev. 2:10 to be a "comfort" -- "to obviate the fears and terrors" of being in prison, and informing us that "God hath limited Satan and his instruments" -- "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." Furthermore, he avers that prison may be a mercy to us, "a time of retirement from the world, and the clamours and distractions" of it.

Mortify Life: Flavel frankly reminds us that "Die you must: and if by shrinking from Christ you should protract a miserable life for a few days longer, in the meantime losing that which is better than life, Psalm 63:3, Matthew 10:39[17]; Oh! when you lie upon your deathbed, you will wish that you have obeyed God's call, and so have departed in peace." He reminds us of Romans 14:7, "For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself" and asks, "Why should you decline even a violent death for Christ," citing Romans 8:38-39, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." He concludes by exhorting us with this verse: "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us."


The Truth:

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:10)


Endnotes:
1. Works of John Flavel (6 vol set), Banner of Truth Trust (1820, 1968), ISBN 0-85151-060-4. Flavel's dissertation titled "Preparations for Suffering, or The Best Work in the Worst Times" appears in Volume 6, pages 3-83.
2. See lexicon at this webpage for definitions and verses: http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2289&t=KJV
3. See lexicon at this webpage for definitions and verses: http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3499&t=KJV
4. Philippians 3:8 is Paul's magnificently bold statement while in prison:
"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ."
5. See definition of physic here: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/physic
6. I Corinthians 2:2-3a makes the connection between immaturity and carnality:
"I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal:...."
7. 2 Peter 1: 4 states:
"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
8. Isaiah 53:7 states:
"He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth."
9. Philippians 3:18-19 states:
"(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)"
10. Hebrews 11:36 includes this in the list of sufferings by those of faith who went on before us:
"And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:"
11. Hebrews 12:2 includes this phrase, which is important to recall when under the persecution of
"cruel mockings": "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
12. 1 Peter 4:16 reiterates this:
"Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf."
13. Acts 5:41 states:
"And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name." 14. "Handselled" is defined here: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/handselled
15. "Clapt" is an older form of the verb "clapped," which means in this instance: "to put or place quickly or forcefully: to clap a lid on a jar;
She clapped her hand over his mouth. They clapped him in jail." See: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/clap
16. Psalm 142:7 is a Psalm of David when he was in the cave (not unlike a prison!), where he concludes by praying:
"Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me."
17. Psalm 63:3 reminds us that "Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee." Matthew 10:39 states the fact that "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it."


*
Aleksander I. Solzhenitzyn, The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Vol. 1-2, Part 1: The Prison Industry, Chapter 3: The Interrogation (Harper & Row, 1973), p. 130.


**ED. NOTE: Italics in original, bold added. We have taken minor liberties to reformat some of the published text by altering some of the punctuation, Roman numerals, and other obsolete forms.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

My Life In 'THE WAY'

"At the time of my conversion, I had also dedicated over 13 years of my life to the martial arts. Through the literal sweat of my brow, I had achieved not one, but two coveted black belts, promoted that year to second degree--Sensei Nidan. I had studied under some internationally recognized karate masters and had accumulated a room full of trophies...."[1]


ANNOUNCING A NEW RESOURCE!


For several years now we have been aware of a booklet by Gaylene Goodroad, a parishioner at Pastor Larry DeBruyn's Franklin Road Baptist Church in Indianapolis. At the time we read early drafts of the book we were excited about its contents and encouraged her to get it into people's hands.

We are pleased to announce that her booklet My Life In 'THE WAY' is now available online as an e-book. At her new blog, Gaylene has written:

Its been almost eighteen years since my conversion to Christ--and the renouncement of both my black belts--but it wasn't until recently that I fully realized the close kinship between the spiritual roots of the martial arts and the Emergent/Contemplative spirituality engulfing the Church of Jesus Christ. After some research, I discovered that the devil's lie from Genesis 3 has been cleverly repackaged and marketed to unsuspecting karate enthusiasts for hundreds of years, and is now simpatico among many professing Christians....[2]


To continue reading, visit her blog at:
http://mylifeintheway.blogspot.com
Scroll all the way down to the very bottom of the page and you will find a link to her booklet. To read the book, simply click on the link and a pdf file of the e-book will pop up.


If you think you know all about Judo, Karate, Yoga, Reiki, etc. you might be surprised when you read My Life In 'THE WAY.' This book delves into the fascinating history of the Do 'Way' - also known as Tao or Dao. The author explains the mystical foundations of the extensive modern martial arts movements, and how these all serve as vehicles that foster Eastern "enlightenment," meditation, and alternate paths to spiritual development.

Particularly interesting is the explanation of how the various forms of martial arts have "unique techniques, movements, and patterns." Goodroad explains, "These are not physical exercises alone, but forms of meditation in motion," especially as they are accompanied by "breath" work and visualization.

Quite a bit of ground is covered in this short booklet of 44 pages. The section describing Hollywood stars and the glamorization of various forms of martial arts in the pop culture are real eye-openers, especially the activities of Chuck Norris. Engaging in the martial arts is not as benign as people have been led to believe!

This is a great booklet to refer to those who are involved in these alternative spiritual pathways and practices. The book is quick and easy to read. The full-color illustrations and easy-to-read layout will encourage people to give it more than a glance. The well-documented content is sure to provoke discussion, controversy, and hopefully some real soul-searching.


The Truth:

"...and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." (1 Timothy 4:7a-8)


Endnotes:
1. Gaylene Goodroad, My Life In 'THE WAY,' e-book linked to from this blog (scroll down to the very bottom of the page for the link): http://mylifeintheway.blogspot.com
2. "Christian" Martial Arts: Another Bad Branch on the Tree of the New Spirituality, by Gaylene Goodroad, posted at: http://mylifeintheway.blogspot.com/2010/02/christian-martial-arts-another-bad.html


Note: We will resume our current series Preparations for Suffering shortly, Lord willing.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Emerging Evangelical Idolatry

A.D. 252 Afterwards, an honorable believing woman, called Cointha, or, as others call her, Quinta, was seized and brought into a temple of idols, and placed before these, in order to compel her to worship them. But when she recoiled with abhorrence from the idols, they tied her feet together, and dragged her through all the streets of the city of Alexandria, beat her with rods, and as some writers have records, rubbed her naked body against mill-stones. When they had dragged, beaten, and rubbed her long enough, so that her body was completely lacerated, they at last dragged her into the suburbs, and there pelted her with stones until she was covered with them.
-- Martyrs Mirror, p. 133*


In this ongoing Herescope series Preparations for Suffering we must pause for a sober look at the current evangelical madness which is rushing headlong into open idolatry.

Pastor Larry DeBruyn has just published an article on T.D. Jakes, which reveals a new twist on his heretical teachings, "Eroticizing the Eucharist: T.D. Jakes and Communion at 'A Table Set for Two.'"[1]

In this article, Pastor DeBruyn examines a recent "Communion" message by Bishop T.D. Jakes, in which he "eroticizes the ordinance" of communion, turning it into a blatantly sexual experience. Warning: this message of T.D. Jakes is not only pure heresy, it is also very graphic. Jakes uses erotic imagery to redefine biblical communion. His teaching is so vivid, in fact, that those who have difficulty in this area of their lives should not expose themselves to his words!

And herein lies the idolatry. For with his words, T.D. Jakes has woven a verbal PICTURE, an IMAGE of communion that has the potential to become indelibly stamped in people's minds. His words not only conjure up lustful thoughts, but he equates this with a super-spirituality. Jakes' words are a literal photo-op of idolatrous worship.

The two always go together in occult idolatry, both sexuality and spirituality. And in the human brain the two forces work together in a potent combination, creating a synergy, a super-combustible reaction that opens one up to the demonic realm. The creation of an IMAGE of this sort in the mind is IDOLATRY. Furthermore, idolatry feeds off of lust, and vice versa. Pastor DeBruyn has written:

Imagination creates images--even idolatrous images--and the images can either be material or mental, visual or verbal.

Someone once said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In an image-oriented age where people watch more and read less, the statement makes its point. But words can also create images, powerful images. Through the mind's eye, we see.
[2]

This is why T.D. Jakes' newest heresy is so volatile and dangerous. In his radical revision of true holy communion, T.D. Jakes is also laying the groundwork for the divinization of man. Pastor DeBruyn's article raises the question:

Is he advocating that magically transubstantiated elements possess the power to divinize communicants? At face value, his words suggest this to be the case. According to his scheme of spirituality, the communion elements become a magical-mechanical-means whereby Christians become “gods.”[3]

Note that T.D. Jakes is not one of the recognized "Emergent" church leaders, which is where most of this idolatry is coming in like a flood. Rather, he is one of the evangelical leaders[4] commonly associated with the Word-Faith movement.[5] He is also a "Oneness Pentecostal," meaning that he denies the doctrine of the Trinity. Yet, despite these faulty credentials, Jakes is widely accepted as an esteemed evangelical leader. Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries has aptly questioned his evangelical credentials:

How very sad, the alleged Church “militant” is so tepid and timid will not even defend the Holy Trinity. So a flaming heretic like Dr. T.D. Jakes with a very powerful speaking persona will now come right into this SBC meeting and dominate it as he did last year at C3 2006. And from there other “evangelical” church groups will be more emboldened to follow suit and Jakes will go from someone who was once on the fringe of the Church to front and center stage. But know this: Opening this door to Jakes will also be opening the door for mainstream acceptance for a whole host of other Word Faith and Emergent Church spiritual “knuckleheads.” Unfortunately I must say there are quite perilous times ahead.[6]

Indeed, it is the Emergent movement where much of this "Sex God" consciousness-altering spirituality is harbored, nurtured and promoted. And as Pastor DeBruyn has previously noted, this emergent idolatry is intent on creating an alternate path to heightened spiritual experiences, and "divinity." His groundbreaking article on this topic of sensual idolatry, "Evangelicals: Emergent and Erotic" was first published on Herescope as a series.[7] His latest book Unshackled: Breaking Away from Seductive Spirituality, covers this topic in depth.[8]

We have previously written on Herescope[9] about how other evangelical leaders are using sophisticated mechanisms to manipulate the brains, creating lustful thoughts and pleasurable feelings to further their heretical agenda. We have published articles critical of the new "passion" emphasis,[10] which invokes romanticism, eroticism, and lust in worship.[11] These fleshly lusts are quickly becoming substitutes for true spirituality. This latest doctrinal perversion of T.D. Jakes is an alarming example of these emerging erotic seductions, luring people into heretical imaginations. And it is an obvious example of the dangers inherent in idolatry.


The Truth:

Let we forget, the Scripture calls this form of idolatry by the term adultery. Spiritual adultery. As Dr. Francis Schaeffer wrote many years ago:

We find [God] uses the term adultery, and parallel terms over and over again, in regard to the people of God turning away from Himself.

In Exodus 34:12-14 he says: "Take heed to thyself , lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves. For thou shalt worship no other god; for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God; lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice." When the people of God turned aside to these gods, the false gods round about, what does God call it? He says, Do you not understand what you are doing? You are going whoring, you are caught in the midst of spiritual adultery....

In Ezekiel 6:9 God is speaking, not Ezekiel. "I am broken with their whorish heart." God is saying about His people who have turned away into apostasy, "I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols." Notice how God is concerned about His people. This is not a neutral thing, a matter of indifference, to God. God is not just a theological term; He is not a "philosophical other." He is a personal God, and we should glory in the fact that He is a personal God. But we must understand that since He is a personal God, He can be grieved. When His people turn away from Him, there is sadness indeed on the part of the omnipotent God.
[12]

"Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions." (Psalm 106:39)


Endnotes:
1. Pastor Larry DeBruyn, "Eroticizing the Eucharist: T.D. Jakes and Communion at "A Table Set for Two," http://guardinghisflock.com/2010/03/04/eroticizing-the-eucharist-1/. See original article for footnote in this text. Pastor DeBruyn's article also references U2 and its perverted “‘U2-charist’, a Holy Communion service that employs the Irish supergroup’s best-selling songs in place of hymns.” For more information on the significance of Bono and U2, and their connections with Rick Warren, see Herescope's article "The RED 3-legged Stool" posted here: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2006/10/red-3-legged-stool.html
2. Pastor Larry DeBruyn, Unshackled: Breaking Away From Seductive Spirituality, (2009). See this webpage for book details: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2009/10/unshackled.html
3. Ibid, http://guardinghisflock.com/2010/03/04/eroticizing-the-eucharist-1/
4. T.D. Jakes has associated with Rick Warren at key events. In 2005 we wrote: "Rick Warren of Saddleback Church spoke to a gathering of 12,000 people in Dallas, Texas at the Reunion Arena for a live broadcast of the Global Day of Prayer event. He was joined on-stage by Rev. Jack Graham, T.D. Jakes, and other evangelical luminaries." See article posted here: http://www.discernment-ministries.org/NLJulyAugust_2005.htm
5. Scroll down to Jakes, T.D. and see the articles linked to from this Deception in the Church webpage: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/word-faith.html
6. " T.D. Jakes And Oneness Pentecostalism (AKA Modalism)," by Ken Silva, Apprising Ministries, 1/10/07. Posted here: http://apprising.org/2007/01/10/td-jakes-and-oneness-pentecostalism-aka-modalism/ Cited at http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/word-faith.html
7. Start here and follow the links - "Evangelicals: Emergent and Erotic" http://herescope.blogspot.com/2009/06/evangelicals-emergent-and-erotic.html
8. See this post for details: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2009/10/unshackled.html
9. See "The Dopamine-Driven Church" series that begins here: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/04/dopamine-driven-church.html
10. See "Mike Bickle's Gigolo Jesus: IHOP’s Bridal Paradigm," by K. Jentoft, published here: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2008/05/mike-bickles-gigolo-jesus.html
11. See "God's Dream: A Kingdom Building Dream," posted here: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2008/07/gods-dream.html
12. Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer,
The Church Before the Watching World, chapter 2: "Adultery and Apostasy--The Bride and Bridegroom Theme." The Complete Works of Francis A Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview, Volume Four, A Christian View of the Church (Crossway, 1982), pp. 141-142.

*This quotation comes from The Bloody Theater of Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians Who Baptized Only Upon Confession of Faith, and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus, Their Saviour, From the Time of Christ to the Year A.D. 1660: Compiled from various authentic chronicles, memorials, and testimonies by Thieleman J. van Braght (1660). Quotation is from the 5th English Edition, 1951, p. 133. This 1157 page historical tome is briefly known as Martyrs Mirror.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

FORTITUDE

237 A.D. In the new Keysers Chronijk there is related a cruel and iniquitous deed perpetrated by Emperor Maximin on the Christians. The author says: The Christians were assembled in their churches or meeting places, praising their Saviour, when the Emperor sent forth his soldiers, and had all the churches or meeting places locked up, and then wood placed around them and set on fire, in order to burn all the Christians within. But before the wood was ignited, he caused it to be proclaimed, that whoever would come out and sacrifice to the god Jupiter, should be secure of his life, and moreover, be rewarded by the Emperor. They replied that they knew nothing of Jupiter; that Christ was their Lord and God, by the honor of His name, and calling upon the same they would live and die. It is to be regarded as a special miracle, that among so many thousand Christians there was not found one who desired to go out, in order to save his life by denying Christ; for all remained together with one accord, singing, and praising Christ, as long as the smoke and vapor permitted them to use their tongues. -- Martyrs Mirror*


Fortitude: n. Strength of mind that allows one to endure pain or adversity with courage.[1]

Fortitude: "An holy boldness in the performance of difficult duties, flowing from faith in the call of God, and His promise to us in the discharge of them." - John Flavel [2]


Part 13: Preparations for Sufferings

When was the last time you heard the word "fortitude" in connection with your Christian walk? Perhaps never! It isn't a term found in the Bible. John Flavel** in his historic description of readiness for persecution, "Preparation for Sufferings," succinctly defines fortitude as "holy courage." He maintains that this is a "conspicuous grace" in all of the biblical heroes who have passed on before us, and it necessitates an "awakened courage." Fortitude seems to describe a courage for the long haul, a steadfastness of faith, and a continuing resiliency.

Why is fortitude so necessary? Flavel lists four reasons:

  • SATAN: "Because the success and prevalence of Satan's temptations in the hour of persecution depends upon the fainting and overthrow of this grace." Flavel says that whenever Satan raises persecutions in the world, he works "upon the passion of a carnal fear" and makes "the soul as a tumultuous sea. This he aims at, Nehemiah 6:13.[3] This is a multiplying passion that presents dangers more and greater than they are, and so drives the soul into the very net and snare laid by the devil.... If he can but subdue this grace, he will quickly bring you to capitulate for life and liberty, upon the basest and most dishonourable terms." In other words, Satan will attempt to cause us to fear and to compromise our faith.
  • STAGE: "There is a great solemnity at the suffering and trial of a saint: heaven, earth and hell, are spectators, observing the issue, and how the saints will acquit themselves in that hour." Here Flavel quotes from 1 Corinthians 4:9, which states: "For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men." He portrays our suffering as a stage set between good and evil. On one side is God, the angels and saints waiting to see the "glorious triumph" of our faith. On the other side are the "devils and wicked men" who hope to take advantage of our cowardice. This is a very sobering thought indeed -- that should we "faint and give ground" to the adversaries of Christ, it would give "triumphs" to hell and make "Christ's enemies vaunt over Him." When all is said and done, wouldn't it be more blessed to hear the Lord say of us, as he did of Job: "...and still he holdeth fast his integrity..." (Job 2:3)?
  • PEACE: "Your own peace is wrapped up" in exhibiting fortitude. Make it your desire to "be freed from those vultures and harpies[4] that feed upon the hearts of men at such times," says Flavel. He reminds us this verse: "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD" (Psalm 112:7).
  • STANDARD-BEARER: This is especially true for those who are leaders and/or the first to be persecuted. Flavel says, "If you faint, it is like the fainting of a standard-bearer[5] in an army: you bring thereby an evil report upon the cross of Christ, as the first spies did upon the land of Canaan." A sobering thought indeed.

Fortitude is a special act of God's mercy, and Flavel distinguishes it from a "natural or sinful boldness" that can arise from an "evil disposition" or our flesh. He goes on to say it is a duty that is "exercised for truth, not error, Jer. 9:3,[6] for the interest of Christ, not of the flesh." This gift miraculously appears during a "season... when duties are surrounded and beset with difficulties and dangers, Dan 3:16; 6:10.[7] This type of fortitude is evidence of a faith that respects the command and call of God to duty." Josh 1:5-7.[8]

Flavel cites ten rules that promote godly fortitude in the life of a believer:

  • GET A WEANED HEART: This point is hammered home again and again by Flavel. "Get a weaned heart from all earthly enjoyments," because unless you do this these things will "strangely effeminate, soften, and cowardize your spirit when your trial comes, 2 Tim 2:4."[9]
  • POSSESS A SOUND MIND: "Suffer not guilt to lie upon your consciences," says Flavel, because it wounds the mind, and creates "black fogs and mists" which "becloud" us. "The spirit of a sound mind is opposed to the spirit of fear, 2 Tim. 1:7.[10] Repentance of sin is the remedy for a guilty conscience, and then we can stand on Romans 5:1: "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
  • BE SURE OF YOUR CALLING: "Be well satisfied that you are in the way and posture God expects to find you in." In other words, being clear about your call to suffer will give you courage, 1 Peter 4:19: "Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator."
  • SEE OPPOSITION CLEARLY: "Get right notions and apprehensions of your enemies. We are apt to magnify" our opposition, giving them more power than they actually possess. Flavel urges us to see them as God describes them, citing Isaiah 40:15,17[11] and John 19:11, where Christ tells Pilate, "Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above." Flavel reminds us that our enemies carry genuine guilt and real fear, and they bear carnal weapons only, which cannot touch our souls: "They cannot thunder with an arm like God, nor blot your name out of the book of life, nor take your part out of the New Jerusalem; therefore fear not man." No wonder we are admonished to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44).
  • BE STRONG IN THE LORD: "Labour to engage the presence of God with you in all places and conditions. Whilst you enjoy this, your spirits will be invincible and undaunted, Joshua 1:9,[12] Psalm 118:6: 'The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? Isaiah 43:1,2."[13]
  • VALUE CHRIST: "Get an high estimation of Jesus Christ, and all His concernments. They that value him highest, will adventure for him farthest." Flavel recommends that the "interests of Christ" swallow up our own interests.
  • BEWARE OF PRUDENCE: What an unusual thing to say! But Flavel would have us be concerned that there are those who caution us with "carnal policy, mistaken for Christian prudence," which can "prove destructive to all true zeal and courage for Christ." Some, by cautioning us to exercise "prudence," would stop us from obeying the Lord. He warns, "It is true, there is such a thing as Christian prudence; but this doth not teach men to shun all costly and difficult duties, and prostitute conscience to save the skin. 'A man of understanding walketh uprightly,' Prov. 15:21."
  • SEE THE SWEETNESS: Flavel explains this point in beautiful language:

Look upon the inside of troubles for Christ, as well as upon the outside of them. If you view them by an eye of sense, there appeareth nothing but matter of discouragement. To look on the outside of a prison, banishment or death, is affrighting and horrible: but then if you look into the inside of these things by faith, and see what God hath made them to His people, and how joyful and comfortable they have been in these conditions; what honey they have found in the carcass of a lion, what sons in the stocks and dungeons, what glorying in tribulation, and hundred-fold reward even in their sufferings: O then! that which looked like a serpent at a distance, will appear but as a rod in hand. How men have found themselves quite mistaken in their apprehensions of sufferings; and been more loath to come out of a prison, than they were to go in! If you did but see your supports and the comforts that souls ordinarily meet with in their troubles for Christ, you would not look on them as such formidable things.

  • LOOK TO THE REWARD: If you "view the reward of sufferings by an eye of faith" it will "strongly abate the horror and dread of them, Heb 10:34."[14] Also see Romans 8:18 and 2 Cor. 4:16.17.[15]
  • KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE CLOUD: "Propound to yourselves the best patterns and examples. Keep your eye upon the "cloud of witnesses" in Hebrews 12:1.[16] He also cites James 5:10: "Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience." Flavel chastises us with the reminder that the enemies of the Lord were beaten by "poor women and children," examples "that are gone before you."

The Truth:

"Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD." (Psalm 31:24)


Endnotes:
1. Fortitude is defined at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fortitude.
2. Works of John Flavel (6 vol set), Banner of Truth Trust (1820, 1968), ISBN 0-85151-060-4. Flavel's dissertation titled "Preparations for Suffering, or The Best Work in the Worst Times" appears in Volume 6, pages 3-83.
3. While Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, he was challenged to compromise repeatedly by Sanballat and his evil companions. They wanted him to meet with them, and when he wouldn't agree, they changed their tactics, sending him a concocted death threat to lure him into the temple. Nehemiah responded to this trap with exemplary discernment and fortitude: "And I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in. And, lo, I perceived that God had not sent him; but that he pronounced this prophecy against me: for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.Therefore was he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin, and that they might have matter]for an evil report, that they might reproach me" (Neh. 6:11-13). Note how Nehemiah prays in verse 14: "My God, think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and on the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear."
4. See http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/harpies. In classical mythology harpies are "a ravenous, filthy monster having a woman's head and a bird's body." This term came to mean anything voracious, greedy or predatory. So, Flavel here is likening our own fears to vultures and harpies that are feeding upon our hearts, making us in great need of godly courage and fortitude.
5. See definitions of standard-bearer here: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/standard-bearer.
6. Jeremiah 9:3 states his description of spiritual "adulterers," whom he describes as "an assembly of treacherous men" (in vs. 2): "And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD."
7. Daniel 3:16 is the familiar story, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter." Daniel 6:10 is a beautiful illustration of this holy boldness, especially because Daniel knew the potential consequences: "Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime."
8. Before going into the Promised Land and its battles Joshua was told by God: "There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest." Note the conditions on these promises, and read verses 8 and 9 also: "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."
9. 2 Timothy 2:4 states the principal: "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
10. Note how fear, the opposite of fortitude, is also the opposite of a sound mind in 2 Timothy 1:7: "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
11. Isaiah 40:15 and 17 state: "Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, He taketh up the isles as a very little thing.... All nations before Him areas nothing; and they are counted to Him less than nothing, and vanity."
12. See footnote 8.
13. Isaiah 43:1,2 is a wonderful promise of God's presence: "But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine.When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."
14. Hebrews 10:14 states: "For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance."
15. Romans 8:18 states: "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." 2 Corinthians 4:16, 17 states: "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." In verse 18, not cited by Flavel, we are reminded of what our focus should be: "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
16. Hebrews 12: 1 begins with "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses," which hearkens back to the list of saints in Hebrews chapter 11 who evidence profound faith under trials.

*This quotation comes from The Bloody Theater of Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians Who Baptized Only Upon Confession of Faith, and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus, Their Saviour, From the Time of Christ to the Year A.D. 1660: Compiled from various authentic chronicles, memorials, and testimonies by Thieleman J. van Braght (1660). Quotation is from the 5th English Edition, 1951, p. 131. This 1157 page historical tome is briefly known as Martyrs Mirror.

**ED. NOTE: Italics in original, bold added. We have taken minor liberties to reformat some of the published text by altering some of the punctuation, Roman numerals, and other obsolete forms.